As Markets Change, We Must Reinvent

Running a business would be much easier if our customer’s tastes, needs, desires, competencies and decision-making processes never changed. And it would get a whole lot easier if our competitors never came up with new ideas and better, more efficient ways of delivering products and services. However, life would also be dull, boring, predictable and rather routine – all of which would drive entrepreneurs to insanity. Reinvention CartoonSome entrepreneurs are more competitive than others. But all of us are driven by what could be and the reasonable possibility that we can improve the lives of those around us while bettering our own lot in life as well. Unfortunately, what happens to some business leaders is that they fail to see the changes in the market and adjust their businesses accordingly. For example, at a recent CEO group to which I belong, I was a bit surprised to learn in our last meeting that every CEO was diversifying and branching out into more product lines as the core product line which gave rise to us forming the group in the first place was rapidly changing in its’ delivery methods and value to the customer. But recognizing when to “move on” to other product lines because the current product lines are dying due to market forces is one of the core elements that every business owner must face. I was having lunch with my family in Famous Dave’s last night. Their décor is “in the past” as they try to take you back to times you might remember as a kid. I recall seeing a Borden’s Milk sign on the wall. I drank their milk growing up. You can’t find it in the stores today – at least not in the stores here in Minnesota. The leading brands of yester-year are rarely the leading brands of tomorrow. I’m writing this in 2014. Go back 50 years – who were the leading brands 50 years ago? It’s a different list than we have today. Some of the brands that were Fortune 500 in 1955 are out of business today, I would submit, either because they failed to change with the times or they failed to run their business ethically. In order for a business of any size to remain strong, they must also be reinventing and renewing as they enter new product line areas and find better ways to provide products and services to their customers. Ministries must reinvent too. Schueller’s Crystal Cathedral is a prime example of how a television ministry that was so powerful in 80’s and 90’s lost support because their donor base died off and the younger generation wasn’t interested in giving their money toward a bunch of television shows where, in essence, the church was just talking to themselves. I recall going to a service there one Sunday morning in the 2006 timeframe. The cameras were rolling. The singers were performing – and I mean performing, not worshipping – and Schuller was still doing his thing, offering positive thinking and doing his interviews. But the pews were essentially empty. The main floor was probably 30% occupied and the entire upper balcony was empty – except for the television cameras. He looked at and spoke to the cameras most of the time. I could tell he was also performing. His performances lost market value and market share after the dot-com bust and his ministry declared bankruptcy in 2013. What he and many others in evangelical Christianity failed to realize is that their financial excesses of the 80’s and 90’s had a boomerang effect on the younger generation. They weren’t (and aren’t today) looking for a comfortable religion – they were and are looking for a real religion in which people sacrifice for their brother and live without the financial and sexual selfishness found in their parent’s generation. Young people want to invest in something, but they want it to be real, they it to work and they want it to be authentic. The Biblical word for reinvention is regeneration. When Christ is invited into our lives, through the power and work of the Holy Spirit, He regenerates us into, literally, a new creation. We get a new nature. The old stuff passes away and we become something we were not. We can’t do this on our own – we can only experience this through His regenerating power. Reinvention – becoming – transforming – growing – this entire cluster of words that refers to newsness coming out of that which is dying is foundational to both good business and good Christianity. If you’re a Christian Business Owner – then today, take a look at your business. Consider how you might grow it through new product lines or through better delivery of your products or services. Don’t waiver on this – keep growing your business and let it “become” even as Christ does His daily work of regeneration in your life. Bill English CEO, Mindsharp Associate, The Platinum Group

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